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Voice of a Gamer Girl (Adding to the Static)

January 9, 2012

There’s an advantage to my usual username online. For those who don’t speak French, it’s easy to assume that I am male. Over the years I have found this both useful and frustrating. I have noticed this most recently in playing Minecraft.

Minecraft is a game of building. When it first came out, it was like having an online game of Legos. Like many Minecraft players, I started out in my own little world and eventually moved on to multiplayer. Since I didn’t know anyone else playing Minecraft, I wound up going to a lot of stranger’s servers. The Minecraft avatars are very blocky and asexual. And it since Legos tend to be assumed to be a boy toy, it is easy to see why the default assumption of sex in this game is male.

I usually just wanted to be left alone, so I tended to let the other players keep their misconceptions. Even so, when the topic came up I was honest about being female. If someone called me a male, used the word he, or otherwise indicated that they thought I was male, I corrected them. I am a big advocate of the visibility of women in gaming. I feel that if there are more visible women in gaming, the sort of bad behavior I experienced will decrease.

If you has been following along with Dr. Nerdlove’s articles onNerds and Male Privilege (or you happen to be a female gamer like me), you probably know generally how it goes.

Depending on how long I had been on the server, most of the other players were okay about it. But there was always some guy who felt the need to harass me for being female. Whether or not I stayed on the server always depended on what happened next.

The Minecraft chat is fully public. So when a guy said something nasty to me, the whole server could see it. I left a whole lot of servers behind because the other players either ignored the harassment, told me to stop being so sensitive, or joined in. I had one guy follow me around using his avatar to trap mine into corners, where he would then spam the whole server with this: “Rape? Rape? RAPE? Rape? Rape? RAPE!”

Every other person on the server could see what he was saying to me. I was very firm in telling him to leave me alone. I even asked that the owner of the server to please intervene. What I got instead were the other players jeering at me for not being able to take a “joke.” The moderator told me that since I was new, and the other player was a regular, that if I didn’t want to “suck it up and deal,” then I could just leave. This was especially upsetting because everyone on the server has been very friendly up to that point. Once I revealed of myself as female, I was no longer a fellow player. I became a target for the guy who thought that rape was a joke. And every other guy on that server became complicit in his actions. If this guy truly were a rapist in real life, here was all of the proof he needed that other guys were in on the “joke,” too.

This is not the worst harassment I have ever received in online games. This was just the most blatant. Revealing myself as female has always carried this risk. I have even had guys accuse me of flaunting myself simply for correcting them when they assumed I was male. It is interesting that one of the typical responses to women who talk about their negative online experiences is the guy who will bring the girl who was “flaunting” herself for attention. Leaving aside the connotation of that word, I find the specter of the “attention whore” a little unbelievable considering I was accused of it merely for correcting someone.

Dr. Nerdlove received all lot of comments on his articles complaining that he talked about the problem, but never offered any solutions. For those of us to whom the concept of male privilege is not new, the solution seems blatantly obvious.

Don’t be that guy. Don’t support that guy. Don’t join in with that guy. By your silence, don’t agree with that guy. It is not enough to simply not be a rapist. By your actions, you can show rapists that you do not support their behavior. In this sort of situation, silence equals consent. Silence equals support. To the guy who thinks that rape is no big deal, your silence that shows that you think it’s no big deal too.

For the rapist, women are not real. They are targets. They are objects. They are holes attached to a life support machine which must be gamed or hacked in order to get what they want. Women’s voices talking about rape culture are just static. If you think that rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, rape culture, or anything of that nature is wrong, than you need to add your voice to the static. Maybe if the noise gets low and loud enough, more people will start to hear it.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Evelyn Logan permalink
    January 9, 2012 8:39 am

    Don’t be that guy, indeed, in gaming and in real life.

    I don’t care who might deny it: a man who behaves that way online is not a giant step from behaving that way in his everyday life. And those men are the primary reason I teach women how to safely and effectively use firearms, Kubotan, and alternate weaponry that can be carried pretty much everywhere.

    As a rape survivor myself, and a rape *attempt* survivor (because that time I had a gun), I very much appreciate your stance and your speaking out. And appreciate your being my niece, of course. ;o)

  2. March 2, 2013 2:58 pm

    I know this is an older post but I just found it this week through Dr. Nerdlove. What you experienced is exactly why I’ve never played on a server that isn’t my own. If you want to play Minecraft on a private server with other women and feminists let me know. We’re still quite a small server, with 3 people regularly building and 3 more who join in for occasional group adventures. Being a Doctor Who fan is not required.

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